#5. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
An intriguing, lovely, sad tale of twins and their family saga across three continents.
#4. Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris
Tackles the learning and re-learning of Christianity and its Big Words with the grace and dexterity of a poet. I love this exploration of why the ancient, oft-misunderstood words of faith remain relevant, and how one might rebuild a vocabulary of faith and spirit when so many of the words have been used to hurt.
#3. The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South by Osha Gray Davidson
This book is part racial history of Durham—and reminds me how good it is to know the story of the place where you live (how many of us truly do?). And it is part story of the transformational relationship between a former KKK member and a black community organizer who came together on school integration and became the best of friends. A timely read.
#2. The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief by Jan Richardson
While I'm sure my interest and love of these poems is tied to chaplaincy, I don't think it's limited to that sphere. There are a lot of reasons for personal and public grief these days, and this poet's simple but profound words bring life and hope into the honest mess of grief. You can find many of her poems on her website, The Painted Prayerbook.
1. Long Division by Kiese Laymon
THE BEST TV/VIDEO (forgive my very unoriginal contributions here)
Movies- Imitation Game, The Post
TV- Stranger Things
#2. This is Us
This is just good TV, people. Family systems in action.
As usual I'm a year late on movies, but-- WOW. One of the most emotionally powerful and beautifully filmed movies I think I've ever seen.
#5. Living in Durham as a non-student
Durham is a sweet little city, and it's been such a wonderful fall to walk, run, eat, drink, explore, and enjoy life without papers and exams. I'm especially grateful for the amazing friends I've made here and who have stuck around, and for the ensuing camping trips, ballet excursions, book clubs and more.
#4. The events of September 8-17
Because in one single week plus a couple weekends, I hiked the glorious hills of Yosemite with my dear friend and then got to experience the equally wondrous treasures of Ocean City Bike Week with my high school ladies.
That's right everybody. I finished divinity school in May, and although people keep telling me never to say never, I'm being bold: I never plan to enroll in any degree-seeking program ever again. I have a love-hate relationship with school; although I love reading and writing and learning, my mental health doesn't do too well with the combination of grades/scrutiny plus a feeling of abstraction or disconnect from the "real world." I'm very grateful for the time I spent at Duke Divinity and all I learned, but I was so ready to be done and put this degree to work.
# 2. Duke Hospital Chaplaincy
I've written already about how grateful I am for the chaplaincy program in which I currently work. I'm grateful for the process, grateful for the co-workers, grateful for the learning, and most of all grateful for the beautiful patients and families who are willing to let a complete stranger into the intimate moments of their lives. I see God everyday in this work.
#1. Return to East Africa
I started off the year with perhaps the most beautiful moments of it—which is not to say there weren’t many more as the year progressed! For the first time since living in Tanzania in 2009, John and I returned to see old friends last Christmas. It was so good to catch up in the flesh, meet all the children who have come into the world since we were last there, and be amazed at the relationships that persist across time, distance, and difference. I then proceeded to Uganda to live life for a week with a dear friend in Kampala. Finally, I got to attend Duke’s Great Lakes Initiative conference and be absolutely blown away and inspired by the courage of reconciliation workers from Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and others. Some people truly live out their faith even in the face of death, following the call to costly discipleship.